Canton police received their first of three GACP certifications in 1999.
Canton Police Chief Robert Merchant addressed the 20-plus officers and city officials in attendance at a ceremony Wednesday morning, before being presented with a plaque commemorating the renewed certification.
Merchant told the attendees that his department is one of the less than 100 police agencies in the state to be GACP certified.
To obtain this classification, Merchant said the department and each of its officers had to submit to a litany of tests and a long trail of paperwork.
It’s no small feat to complete the process, he said.
But he said it sends a message to residents.
“What it tells the community is that we are dedicated to providing the highest level of professional law enforcement service,” Merchant said.
The certification also presents Canton police officers with a clearly defined set of guidelines to operate within, Merchant said.
That aspect, “hopefully keeps (the Canton Police Department) out of lawsuits,” he said.
Joe Wirthman, the police chief from nearby Jefferson, echoed that sentiment to the attendees before presenting Merchant with the certification Wednesday.
Wirthman told Canton officers that under GACP, they have 129 standards to follow.
But besides making for better police work, following these standards can also help the officers, police and city in the event of a lawsuit, he said.
“You still may get sued,” Wirthman said. “But when you sit in the courtroom and you have a file and can say ‘these are the standards we go by,’ you’re gonna be covered and the police department’s gonna be covered.”
During the ceremony, Merchant also presented a newly-created award to a few officers who’d recently caught his attention with their involvement in the re-certification process and other areas.
The Medal of Merit was presented to Officers Mark Gavala and Don Stewart for their efforts in the GACP recertification and to Lt. Michael Hales for his time and energy spent in the process of purchasing and outfitting the Canton Police Department with six new Chevrolet Tahoes, which were unveiled earlier this month.